Liverpool are well on their way to exceeding expectations this season as they entered the weekend in second place with the halfway point on the horizon. Tottenham were in sixth place, but sat just three points behind the Reds, illustrating the bunched-up Premier League table.
Brendan Rodgers' squad is coming off a pair of convincing victories over Norwich and West Ham that have seen them rack up nine goals while allowing just two. While those wins are necessary to remain near the top of the table, matches against sides like Tottenham are a much better measuring stick.
Spurs have been a streaky side during the first half of the campaign. Right now, they are enjoying one of their good runs of form with three straight wins, including a 4-1 triumph over Anzhi Makhachkala in Europa League play. It gives Tottenham some momentum heading into the key EPL clash.
So let's check out all of the important information for the marquee matchup, followed by a closer look at the top storyline to watch and a match prediction.
What's your prediction for the crucial match?
Where: White Hart Lane in London, England
When: Sunday, Dec. 15 at 11 a.m. ET (4 p.m. GMT)
Watch: NBC Sports Network and Sky Sports 1
Live Stream: NBC Sports Live Extra
Match Forecast (via Bloomberg Sports)
Tottenham: 40 percent
Liverpool: 33.6 percent
Draw: 26.4 percent
Top Storyline: Will Tottenham be able to slow down Luis Suarez?
The biggest key for Tottenham to score a win over Liverpool is no secret. They must find a way to stop Suarez from completely dominating the match, which he has managed to do quite frequently in recent weeks during a remarkable run of elite form.
He's scored six goals over the past two matches and 12 over the past seven. His ability to put the Liverpool attack on his back and produce a string of highlight-reel goals led Rodgers to praise his star while also saying he wouldn't swap him for anybody right now, reports Sam Drury of Sky Sports":
I wouldn't swap him, I get the chance to work with him every day and what he gives to training and what he gives to the team is just a relentless desire.
When you have that in a player then you don't want to let it go, he's been a great privilege to work with. We have a strong relationship, he's been fantastic and he's a joy to watch.
What is making Suarez so dangerous right now is his confidence on the ball. He doesn't need a lot of space to make magic happen. He's weaving in and out of defenders, making incredibly difficult runs look incredibly easy with precise touches and clinical finishing.
The entire Tottenham back line must step up in order to give Spurs a chance. Led by Michael Dawson, they have to be extra aggressive on Suarez in the final third, even if it means allowing other Liverpool players to get chances.
It's easier said than done, of course. When a star is playing as well as Suarez has lately, the ball always seems to find him even when defenders are playing well. So Hugo Lloris will probably need to make a couple of key stops when Suarez does break free.
Ultimately, how Tottenham are able to handle Suarez is the most important single factor in the match. They have to limit his impact to have a chance at three points.
All told, this should be a very entertaining match. Tottenham are in good form right now, and given the home-field edge it's a match where Spurs should be able to earn all three points. But Suarez is the great equalizer for Liverpool.
Much like the midweek win over Anzhi Makhachkala, expect Tottenham to do their best to control possession and set the pace of play. If they can do that early and frustrate Liverpool by limiting attacking opportunities, a win will be in the cards.
Tottenham 2, Liverpool 1